Book Spotlight: Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Review by Phil, Librarian, Cloverdale Branch

Bright Sands Beach is a bleak place, and Nailer's ship breaking crew is barely able to eke a living salvaging materials from the long-abandoned hulks of oil tankers.  Faced with a shortage of food, rival crews, and the "city killer" mega hurricanes, survival is a daily task.  The only hope that ship breakers have is to hit a lucky strike – a hidden cache of rare materials – and buy their way out.  When a city killer hits Bright Sands and washes ashore the wreck of a wealthy clipper, Nailer thinks he's finally hit his lucky strike, and found his way out.  Much to his surprise he finds a lone survivor- a beautiful and wealthy girl – and their encounter ushers in a world of danger, adventure, and ultimately, hope.

Why I picked it up:  An adventure tale set in the post-carbon world by a multiple award winning author – I had to check it out!

Why I finished it:  It was hard to put down from the onset.  I really enjoyed the characters, and the world that Bacigalupi created is rich and intriguing.  Plus, there are some real curveballs in there that make you keep reading.

I'd recommend it to:  Anyone wanting a strong adventure tale, and anyone who likes to let their imagination run wild.

Time to Battle it out again!

If you recall, last year we posted about the Battle of the Kids' Books, hosted for the past few years by School Library Journal. This is a bracket-style showdown between some of the best books for kids & teens, with each matchup "judged" by a well-known author. And it's that time of year again!

This year's Battle of the Books began last Tuesday March 13, with an epic showdown every day– judged by a wonderful group of authors of teen and tween books (Sara Zarr! Gayle Forman! Jeff Kinney!).  There are three more matchups left in Round One, and then we move on to the re-matches in Round Two.

One thing that I keep thinking about as I follow this contest – how on earth do you choose between two such excellent books that are so different?  It is interesting to see how each judge considers the choices thoughtfully, in order to make the decision.  Click here to read the thoughtful reviews – and to see which books will be moving on to the next round!

Book Spotlight: Ashfall

Ashfall by Mike Mullins

Review by Rebecca, Windsor Branch

Following the destructive explosion of a super volcano, 15 year old Alex decides to brave a desolate, lawless journey to find his family, on vacation in another state.

Why I picked it up:  This book was recommended to me by a friend.

Why I finished it:  I could hardly put this book down!  The writing was great, and very engaging, with well-drawn characters.  It was action-packed, and never slowed down; I kept turning the page to find out what would happen next.

I'd recommend it to:  Just about anyone; the theme is survival, and there are a lot of interesting elements to consider were such a catastrophe to occur.  I enjoyed the pace of the book, and the romance that develops is quite sweet and true to life.

Bless Me, Ultima Read-a-Likes

If you enjoyed Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, you might enjoy some of the titles on this list.  Tales of childhood friendship, ancient whales, neighbors and unlikely family, these titles will keep you turning pages to the very end.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

The story of Antonia is told by her childhood friend, Jim, an orphaned boy from Virginia.  Though he leaves the prairie, Jim never forgets the Bohemian girl who so profoundly influenced his life.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

In this novel told in a series of vignettes, reader's experience the life of a young girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
When they are marooned on a deserted island, a group of English schoolboys soon lose their civilized ways.  Alone in a world devoid of adult supervision or rules, the boys attempt to forge their own society.

Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
As her beloved grandfather, chief of a Maori tribe in New Zealand, struggles to lead in difficult times, young Kahu develops a mysterious relationship with whales, particularly the ancient bull whale whose legendary rider is the ancestor of her people.

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
Taylor grew up poor in rural Kentucky.  But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, her life takes an unexpected turn.  By the time she reaches Arizona, Taylor has acquired a three-year-old Native American girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with her new life.

Where the Heart Is by Billy Letts
Novalee Nation has always been unlucky with sevens.  She's seventeen, seven months pregnant, thirty-seven pounds overweight – and now she finds herself stranded at a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma, holding just $7.77 in change.  But Novalee is about to discover hidden treasures in this small prairie town.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Possessing an encyclopedia-like intelligence, the unusual son of a zookeeper named Pi Patel sets sail for America.  But when the ship sinks, Pi escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain.

Rain of Gold by Victor Villasenor
Rain of Gold is the non-fiction saga of the author's own family.  It focuses on three generations of Villasenor's kin, their spiritual and cultural roots in Mexico, their move to California and their overcoming poverty, prejudice and economic exploitation.  It is the warm-hearted, humorous and tragic story of wily, wary, persevering family.

For more information regarding THE BIG READ please see our post.





Book Spotlight: The Marbury Lens

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

Review by Rebecca, Windsor Branch

After escaping abduction by a stranger, 16 year old Jack visits London, where he gains access to an alternate reality via a pair of special glasses.

Why I picked it up:  The cover piqued my interest, and the book summary convinced me to read it.

Why I finished it:  I was dying to find out whether the world of Marbury was real, or just a hallucination.

I'd recommend it to:  Anyone who enjoys considering the nature of reality, and who likes a good story.  The descriptions in the book were fantastic.

The Big Read

All our teen readers can be part of something BIG this March by participating in THE BIG READ.  This year's book of choice is Bless Me, Ultima by classic author Rudolfo Anaya.  The Big Read is a nationwide reading initiative supporting literacy and the love of reading by encouraging individuals to read and discuss a single book as a shared experience in a single month.  Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, local radio and television station KRCB has taken the lead in promoting this event in Sonoma County by partnering with your public library and other community organizations.

Participation is not limited to just reading the book, but we sure do hope that you do!!  Invite your friends and parents to read it with you, too.  To learn more about The Big Read and all the special events in it's honor, take a look at these thinks.

Stayed tuned for a Bless Me, Ultima Read-a-like list!